A main criticism of the current kafala system is the difficulty foreign workers face when changing employers. The "reforms" will not make this cumbersome process much easier. Additionally, the Shura Council has suggested that workers should never be allowed to change jobs more than twice following their first change.
Currently expat workers are not allowed to switch jobs without the permission of their employers. The recommended reform would adjust this so that employees would be required to serve double their contracts or 10 years for open contracts before being allowed to change.
While these "reforms" may be marginally better for workers who have strict employers that would never give them permission to change, it definitely doesn't put a lot of power in the hands of workers.
Furthermore, expat workers would still be required to request permission from their employers prior to international travel, although a grievance committee will be created by the Interior Ministry for appeals from workers wishing to travel for emergencies. It is unclear what the criteria for an emergency may be.
While these adjustments have not yet been made law, they definitely send a bleak message to those hoping for serious kafala reforms within the emirate. The cabinet must now draft and approve a final version of the reform law, taking into account the council's recommendations.
Despite the apparent lack of real positive reform for workers, employers have expressed concern that the changes would require them to pay workers more. Wouldn't that be unfortunate? Paying higher salaries to the people making you rich? How could it get worse?
Fortunately for the concerned business owners, an official from the Labor Ministry alleviated their needless fears by explaining the implementation would still take some time and they would be allowed time to figure out the best ways to proceed with their operations and hire new employees.
Qatar employers: 1 Expat workers: 0
We're calling this kafala reform a complete fail for the time being.